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    System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5

    Harm Millaard Level 7

      Adobe has on its website the Adobe Premiere Pro CS5: System Requirements


      Unfortunately, this overview is severely lacking in realism and a lot of people were disappointed when their system met these minimum requirements, but still would not do what they expected, or at least not without jerkiness, hiccups and similar issues.


      The problem with these requirements as stated is that they are really bare minimum requirements to install the software, but unfortunately it does not tell how well a certain system will perform with the myriad of codecs used and the different needs and expectations people may have about their editing rig. Since this issue is nearly a year old now and nothing tangible has changed, I decided to write this article to help people understand what is realistic to expect, what influences the hardware choices in order to use CS5 to full satisfaction.


      CAVEAT: This is my personal opinion, in no way authorized or endorsed by Adobe, who have not seen anything I write here till the moment it has been published here.




      The nature of one's editing projects can have a major impact on the hardware required to run projects effectively. Long form documentaries, delivered on BRD demand different hardware and priorities in hardware setup then music clips with lots of multicam work and color effects delivered to the web, or wedding video's delivered on DVD. And unfortunately, there is no simple rule saying that if you edit X, you need Y hardware.


      The second thing that has a major impact is the source material, the codec used. Back in the old days things were very simple, you had DV material from a tape based camera and that was it. Nowadays, things have grown much more complex. The number of codecs used in source material has grown enormously, the number of formats and frame rates has grown in a similar fashion. We used to have 480, now we have added 720, 1080, 2K, 3K, 4K plus various DSLR and other formats, we had interlaced, now we have progressive as well, we used to have 25 or 29.97 FPS, now we have 24, 25, 29.97, 60 and even more frame rates. We had DV, now we have MPEG2, HDV, XDCAM, P2, AVCHD, RED, Cineform, Matrox, and numerous other codecs.


      This makes it all the more confusing for people to know what they need when they start out with video editing to run CS5 successfully.


      The codec issue:


      Some codecs are easy to handle for a computer, others are difficult to handle. It is generally known that DV material is very easy to handle and AVCHD is pretty tough to handle. The general rule is that the more compressed the material is, the harder it is for the computer to edit this. GOP (Group of Pictures) structure is an extra burden. The higher the resolution, the harder it is on the computer.


      To simplify matters one could differentiate codecs and source material in three categories, based on their properties:




      Of course boundaries when using three categories are not always very clear, but the tendency is rather clear. Easy codecs are in the upper left corner, difficult codecs are in the lower right corner. For that reason we have identified three categories, Easy, Intermediate and Difficult.


      This is somewhat similar to the color coding PR uses with none, yellow and red in the time line. It is not complete in the overview of common codecs, but is intended to show what the impact can be of different codecs and the hardware requirements.


      I realize this is a limited overview and generic in nature. It will not answer all questions, but may be helpful to avoid disappointments. It also has a number of limitations. For instance, uncompressed MS AVI SD material. No GOP structure, no compression, low resolution, that should be at the top left corner, right? Wrong. Uncompressed does not burden the CPU, but is a definite burden on the memory and disk I/O system.


      What does that mean in terms of requirements?


      System requirements:

      System requirements CS5.png


      If the codecs you generally use are slightly more than just plain "easy", look at the improvemnts in the next column and repeat for the next column if applicable.


      I hope this can benefit people to understand there is more to choosing a system than just following the Adobe site.


      Additions or suggestions for improvements are welcome.

        • 1. Re: System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5
          Todd_Kopriva Level 8

          I'd be especially interested to see people's responses based on real-world experience.


          When folks respond, please be sure to state as many details as possible, but most especially whether you've installed the recent updates, since that has a big impact on performance.

          • 2. Re: System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5
            rmathews_tech Level 1

            This is great information.  I had no idea my GOP's were choking my system so much, but it makes complete sense; those ginormous multi-mega-pixel images X hundreds


            Thanks for the info!

            • 3. Re: System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5
              John T Smith Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              >people's responses based on real-world experience


              My CS5/AVCHD 1st Impressions http://forums.adobe.com/thread/652694?tstart=0 includes a link to the computer I built... since the GTX 285 is no longer sold, I would now go with a GTX 460 or whatever is the current "best bang for the buck" - AND I would buy 4Gig-by-3Sticks memory to be able to expand from 12Gig to 24Gig if needed

              For my home hobbyist, family movies (which means that I am not trying to recreate Star Wars with video effects or many layers) AVCHD editing is "as smooth as spreading warm butter on hot toast" (also the MP4 video from wife's Flip camera)

              My 3 hard drives are configured as... (WD = Western Digital)
              1 - 320G WD Win7 64bit Pro and all programs
              2 - 320G WD Win7 swap file and video projects
              3 - 1T WD all video files... read and write


              Bottom line is that CS5 and AVCHD on my current computer is MUCH faster than SD DV AVI on my previous Pentium 4 computer

              • 4. Re: System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5
                Jeff Greenberg - Filmgeek Level 1

                I'd move HDV into the "intermediate" category - XDCam EX is essentially the same codec.

                I'd put DVCPro50 and DVCPro HD into the "EASY" category, along with DV.

                • 5. Re: System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5
                  inc2000 Level 1

                  on #2. is it a external sata with a usb connection or u have something like a Drobo?

                  • 6. Re: System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5
                    Videoguys Level 1

                    Fantastic article. I really like how you differentiate the needed hardware based on the CODEC to be used. This is a great approach and one I think I will "borrow" for future articles on Videoguys


                    Just a heads up, I've updated our DIY8 article to reflect the latest info and chipset pricing. Intel Hex core has fallen to $599. I'm still onthe fence about the new Sandy bridge chips. while I thinkt ehy are fantastic for laptops, not so sure I like them for workstations. When you add PCIe cards for I/O (eg Matrox MXO2 Mini or AJA Kona) and an exteral RAID controller, I'm concerend about throughput bottlenecks.


                    Once agian, great job on the article.




                    • 7. Re: System requirements for Premiere Pro CS5
                      jadediosa01 Level 1

                      First off, Harm...I've been reading your responses all over the Adobe forums and I have to say thanks. You seem to be very knowledgeable and I'm hoping you can shed some light on issues I've been having related to system requirements.


                      Basically, I'm barely a step above hardware illiterate -- an important step, but still. I saw the article Adobe posted on system requirements and was immediately concerned that I do not have the correct graphics card for my workflow to, well, flow.


                      I've seen how this works, so let me get down to the meat and potatoes:


                      (copied verbatim from the "about this mac" menu)

                      Mac version 10.6.6

                      Processor: 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon

                      Memory: 10GB 667 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM

                      Running off a 1TB drive


                      (copied verbatim from the "more info" tab)

                      Model Name: Mac Pro

                        Model Identifier: MacPro1,1

                        Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon

                        Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz

                        Number Of Processors: 2

                        Total Number Of Cores: 4

                        L2 Cache (per processor): 4 MB

                        Memory: 10 GB

                        Bus Speed: 1.33 GHz

                        Boot ROM Version: MP11.005C.B08


                      Adobe CS5 Production Suite installed

                      Drobo RAID via Firewire 400 (pretty sure it's 400, not 800)


                      Here's what I am in dire need of: someone to tell me once and for all that my system is (a) just fine, or (b) needs work. I am on a borrowed system essentially. I started work at an ad agency and came onto a system that had been used for video by someone who did not do video by trade. The girl before me was a graphic artist who, unfortunately, got roped into video work because there was no one else to do it. Anyway, since I took over working on this machine, the system drive has failed once and it was just cloned again this morning because the disk utility said the disk was failing yet again.


                      Aside from that misfortune, PPro has a ton of bugs, runs about as fast as cold molasses and frequently leaves artifacting and lines in exported video projects, none of which are longer than 10 minutes. My native format for video is .MXF from the Sony XDCAM HD -- beautiful stuff, comes in just fine, works wonderfully on the timeline until I start keyframing, then I grab a pillow and take a nap for 2 minutes at a time while it loads the frame I'm working on.


                      I'm rambling a bit, so I will tie this up and allow you to respond...if you require more information I'm more than willing to provide it, assuming I know what you're talking